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Week of July 17: Catching snappers is a snap at the T-dock

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Robert Shelleby caught his first redfish using pinfish out behind Mulligan's Restaurant in Sebastian. He also caught snook (which are catch-and-release this time of year).

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 Today’s forecast calls for cloudy skies, heavy thunderstorms in the afternoon (about 3 pm), a high of 87 degrees and S-SSW winds of 9 mph.

“Snookman” Wayne Landry, our fishing guide, gives us the lowdown:

“Good morning, beach and fishing fanatics! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Without further ado, here is the report on inlet happenings: Not a whole lot has changed fishingwise at the inlet due to the water silting up a bit and water temperatures cooling back down again to around 81 degrees from the 85-86 it was last week. When that happens, fishing drops off a bit because the fish we normally see this time of the year prefer warmer temperatures. The bait is still around — small greenies, finger mullet and mojarras in the back of the inlet. Here’s the scoop:

North jetty: The action has been in the early morning and late evening high tides. Catch-and-release snook and some redfish are being caught on all live baits if you can get them past the  hungry goliath groupers. More mangrove snappers have been showing up from time to time  around the pilings, inside and outside. Small greenies, either dead or alive, are getting the bite. Live shrimp will work also, but all the ‘other’ fish like the shrimp, too, and will chew them up.

There have been Atlantic spade fish around, along with a few nice sheepshead around the pilings for those using shrimp. There was one day last week that the Spanish mackerel bit pretty good for those using small live greenies, but that was short-lived when the water silted up. On the outgoing tide at the tip, again, catch-and-release snook, if you can keep the goliaths off them. Live mojarras and croakers. I had a report of a couple permit being hooked up at the tip last week, but none were landed. This is the time of year they would likely show up.  All those I have caught have been in July and August. Outgoing tide is better, so you can float a bait, either live shrimp or small crabs are what they like to eat. 

South jetty: Similar to the north jetty,  early and late incoming tide is the best when the water is cleaner. Catch-and-release snook are all over and are hitting live baits and artificials. Along the rocks on the incoming there has been an increase of mangrove snappers, too, with live or dead cut greenies working for bait. Outgoing at the tip is still all about the black margates and blue runners. Any dead bait will work for them with shrimp being the better bait. I also had a report of some small mutton snapper showing up again, but they are too small to keep. Eighteen inches is the minimum for them. I did hear of one keeper being caught, around 22 inches on a live mojarra. 

T-Dock area: Back here, it’s about the snappers! Species being caught include mangroves, muttons and lane snapper. Most are still under the minimum size limit, 10 inches for the mangroves, 18 inches for the muttons, and the lanes are 8 inches to be kept. But in all that there are some keepers being taken home, except for the muttons, all too small. Small live or dead greenies and live shrimp are accounting for the catches around the dock pilings. For those fishing small jigs and live greenies out further, there have been some nice Spanish mackerel around to play with! Lots of bait fish back here everywhere to net and use. Blue runners and jack crevalle top off the list to keep it interesting. Catch-and-release snook action has dropped off as most of them are out further east in the inlet doing their "spawning" thing. 

Surf area, both sides:  South side of the inlet, pocket area south to the day use area there have been whiting being caught, pesky catfish and stingrays all on dead shrimp and cut bait. There are some mangrove snapper being caught around areas that have rock ridges in the surf. Day use area. Snook and redfish also cruise this area  and can be caught on any live bait fished, especially mojarras and pinfish. Tarpon are also a possibility. North side up to the state park line has been pretty slow due to the silted water and lack of baitfish in the surf along with the low water all day. If you do find any baitfish, look for possible action around them and toss small to medium swim baits around. There could quite possibly be some snook, tarpon and sharks around for some fun. The tarpon this time of year are cruising the beaches and for the most part if you find some, they will play. Not much else is going on in the surf except for whiting, which are usually there, oh, and the catfish! 

That's all I have for this week. The weather is supposed to be all right, except for afternoon thunderstorms. Grab your gear and get out and enjoy the outdoors. Remember, take your sunscreen and stay hydrated!” — Snookman.